The age of treason

MPs in Westminster are treasonously colluding with a foreign power to undermine democracy in Britain. They are cheer-leading a campaign by the Israel lobby to vilify the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as an anti-Semite. The aim is to prevent the election of a socialist prime minister supportive of Palestinian rights and to neutralise the BDS campaign against Israel.

Early last year academics Tom Mills, Hilary Aked, Tom Griffin and David Miller published ‘The UK’s Pro-Israel Lobby in Context.’

 The lobby is a significant player in UK politics, helping to blunt campaigns for Palestinian human rights, shore up support for Israel, attack and marginalise critics (including Jewish critics) of Israel and insulate political elites from pressure to act against Israel’s misdeeds… (It) is a transnational phenomenon, fostered by transnational organisations – many headquartered in Israel – and funded in large part by transnational corporate actors. Crucially… the lobby is not an alien interloper, but is integrated into wider neoliberal and/or neoconservative networks, forming a fraction of the transnational power elite.

London was the hub of Zionism in the early 20th century. By the 1950s “the Labour Party was overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, which was imagined by many on the left to be a socialist state.”  More recently Jewish funding freed Tony Blair from the trade unions and propelled the rise of New Labour. London is now a satellite of neoliberal Zionism.

As the more established British Zionist organisations moved further to the right, becoming detached, to some extent, from elite opinion in the UK, they were eclipsed by a new generation of neoliberal Zionists, removed from Jewish communal life but deeply integrated into networks of corporate-state power and in many cases the transnational conservative movement. This network of businessmen and financiers now dominates the organisations that comprise the UK’s pro-Israel lobby. The most influential of these are the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), both of which were established after the collapse of the Oslo peace process and the outbreak of the second intifada.

The JLC incorporates representatives of a number of non-political charitable organisations but it is essentially in the business of promoting and defending Israel. It includes the Jewish Board of Deputies whose president, Marie van der Zyl,  has been particularly vociferous in the anti-Corbyn campaign. One of the Board’s constitutional objectives is to secure Israel’s security, welfare and standing. BICOM is embedded within the British Zionist movement but operates more covertly. It seeks to insulate policy-makers from the negative opinions about Israel rather than targeting public opinion. Both the major political parties include Friends of Israel sections of which a substantial number of MPs are members.

Here’s how the authors of ‘Putting the UK’s Pro-Israel Lobby in Context’ conclude their examination.

‘Since the second intifada started’, writes the former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, ‘pro-Israel leaderships in Jewish communities urged Jews to close ranks and express complete solidarity with Israel. They tried to marginalise dissent, increasingly fostering a “for us or against us” mentality’. This is the reality of the pro-Israel lobby today. As the Zionist dream loses what remains of its emancipatory sheen, and Israel’s violence and racism become impossible to ignore, an increasingly detached elite seeks to mobilise and constrain a reactionary base, whilst intimidating and silencing those who speak out.

 ‘The Lobby’, a four-part Al Jazeera documentary, showed how ‘evidence’ of anti-Semitism is manufactured, faked and exaggerated as part of a campaign supported by the Israeli embassy in London. One of the objectives was to ‘take-down’ senior British government minister Alan Duncan. Complaints about the accuracy of the film, brought by the Israel lobby, were entirely rejected by the UK’s broadcasting regulator in October last year.

A second documentary about the activities of the Lobby in the US, despite much pre-publicity has not been broadcast. However Alain Gresh in Le Monde Diplomatique provides an overview of the explosive content.

Its four 50-minute episodes centred on the young and personable James Anthony Kleinfeld, British, Jewish, an Oxford graduate who speaks six languages including Dutch and Yiddish and is well informed about Middle East conflicts – seemingly a natural fit for a western foreign ministry or a major thinktank.

Kleinfield is the persona used by Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter to infiltrate the Israel lobby in America.

The documentary showed Kleinfeld being enthusiastically recruited for his skills by The Israel Project (TIP), which defends Israel’s image in the media, and associating with senior members of organisations that support Israel unconditionally, especially the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the powerful US lobbying group. For five months, he mixed with them at cocktail parties, congresses and conventions, and on training courses. He won their trust and they opened up to him, abandoning doublespeak and official lines. How, he asked, did they go about influencing the US Congress? “Congressmen don’t do anything unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money.” How did they counter Palestinian rights activists on university campuses? “With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we found at least in the last year, is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads.” Kleinfeld’s contacts told him they were spying on US citizens with the help of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, founded in 2006, which reports directly to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. One official said: “We are a different government working on foreign soil, [so] we have to be very, very cautious.” And indeed some of the things they do could be subject to prosecution under US law.

Gresh says the feverish mood of the Israel lobby revealed in the documentary is striking. Insecurity is driven by the impact of the BDS movement on millennials and students and – despite Obama’s $38 billion aid package – the narrowing of the Lobby’s base to the Republican Party and the evangelical right.

Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, said to a gathering of pro-Israel students: “You discredit the messenger as a way of discrediting the message. When you talk about . . . BDS, you talk about them as a hate group, as a movement that absolutely endorses violence against civilians . . . aka terrorism”– and, of course, as anti-semitic. Pollak called Jewish Voice for Peace (a US leftwing organisation focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) “Jewish Voice for Hamas”. He told Kleinfeld: “The majority of Americans are pro-Israel. Whereas if you take a poll of Israel in the UK, it’s just pure hatred of Israel. Your country basically let half of fucking Pakistan move in. So you have a different problem than we do here.”

Canary Mission –previously shrouded in secrecy– has been the scourge of Palestinian rights activists. It effectively operates a blacklist to “ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.” Above the biography of each victim is the slogan “If you’re a racist, the world should know.”

Kleinfeld managed to talk to Canary Mission’s founder and financial backer, Adam Milstein, chairman of the Israeli-American Council (IAC). Milstein was jailed briefly for tax fraud in 2009, but that didn’t prevent him from carrying on his activities from prison. He explained his philosophy to Kleinfeld: “First of all, investigate who they [the pro-Palestine activists] are. What’s their agenda? They’re picking on the Jews because it’s easy, because it’s popular. We need to expose what they really are. And we need to expose the fact that they are anti everything we believe in. And we need to put them on the run. We’re doing it by exposing who they are, what they are, the fact that they are racist, the fact that they are bigots, [that] they’re anti-democracy.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines anti-Semitism in six words as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” The Israel lobby and its extended network prefer a description which conflates criticism of Israel’s aggressive, racist, apartheid policies with anti-Semitism. In the UK they have forced the government, and now the Labour Party, to accept a logically inconsistent ‘working definition’ of dubious provenance proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which does just that. In the US the Anti-Semitism Awareness Bill presently before Congress incorporates the same definition with its threat to free speech.

The accusations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are risible and demeaning. In Westminster Senior MP Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (74), formerly Oppenheimer, publicly called Corbyn “a fucking racist and anti-Semite.”  Threatened with an investigation – which the party subsequently dropped – she told Sky News:

On the day that I heard that they were going to discipline me and possibly suspend me, it felt almost like, I kept thinking, ‘what did it feel like to be a Jew in Germany in the Thirties?’ Because it felt almost as if they were coming for me…. It reminded me what my Dad … always said to me as a child. ‘You’ve got to keep a packed suitcase at the door Margaret, in case you ever have got to leave in a hurry.

Mark Lewis and Mandy Blumenthal – introduced as lawyer and businesswoman – told the BBC they were leaving the UK because of anti-Semitism. Viewers were expected to believe they represented a growing number of ordinary, terrified Jewish couples. The Jewish News (19 February 2018) suggests propaganda abetted by the public broadcaster.

More than 70 people attended the re-launch event of Herut UK, the political Zionist group affiliated to World Herut in Israel… Lawyer Mark Lewis emphasised the importance of “unapologetic Zionism”, while the UK national director, Mandy Blumenthal, chaired the event and introduced Herut UK’s youth director, Harry Saul Markman. Arieh Miller, chief executive of the Zionist Federation, also attended the event, which was held in Loughton on Sunday night.

Norman Finkelstein’s essay, The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real) clinically dismantles the anti-Semitism hoax.  It is a cogent, considered and valuable rejoinder.

Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin. True, although fighting anti-Semitism is the rallying cry, a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own, have coalesced around this putative cause. It cannot be gainsaid, however, that Jewish organizations form the poisoned tip of this spear…But the truth is, Jewish elites do not for a moment believe that anti-Semitism is a burning issue. If they truly feared that it posed a clear and present danger now or in the foreseeable future, they wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops that Corbyn was a “fucking anti-Semite.” For, if the UK was awash with closet anti-Semites, then, logically, broadcasting this accusation would hand Corbyn free publicity as it would be dulcet tones to the ears of potential voters. Far from damaging him, its diffusion could only facilitate Corbyn’s victory and pave the way for a second Holocaust. On the contrary, Jewish organizations know full well that vilifying Corbyn as an anti-Semite would drastically reduce his appeal, as anti-Semitism resonates only among assorted antediluvians, troglodytes, and fruitcakes.

Benjamin Netanyahu – who has seized the opportunity to malign Corbyn -is still Israel’s Prime Minister despite his claim that Hitler didn’t really want to kill Jews.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes this is not the first time ‘Bibi’ has failed to defend diaspora Jewish communities from anti-Semitism.

Over the last two years he has failed American Jews by remaining silent as Donald Trump endorsed and legitimized white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Despite the express wishes of the Hungarian Jewish community, he has embraced Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has launched an anti-Semitic-style campaign against Jewish financier George Soros and tried to expunge the pro-Nazi record of Hungary’s wartime regime. And only two months ago, Netanyahu received a rare rebuke from Yad Vashem’s historians for signing a joint statement with Poland’s government clearing the Polish people of their well-documented abandonment of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Also, he rushed to congratulate Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, when the center-right leader formed a government with the former neo-Nazi members of the Freedom Party.

Self-evidently hypocrisy, rather than principle, underpins this particular anti-Semitic struggle. John Booth, in a piece for Lobster Magazine, highlights the opportunism of the Labour MPs trying to lynch their leader. They’re defending their turf; the support and possibilities of promotion they enjoyed within the Blairite cartel, and the uncritical support of the mainstream media it guaranteed.

 For those MPs and peers in the Blair-led New Labour initiative backed by Rupert Murdoch and many of the political reporters and columnists on The Daily Mirror, The Independent, The Observer and The Guardian, the arrival of Corbyn as a leadership contender was distinctively uncomfortable – a forced ejection from what had become quite a cozy comfort zone. Not only was Corbyn challenging their New Labour assumptions about neoliberalism, neoconservatism, the ‘war on terror’, triangulation, the Third Way of Anthony Giddens and the communitarianism of Amitai Etzioni, he was developing a grass-roots movement that potentially threatened their parliamentary careers…. And just as the trade unions with their resources warmed to the new direction of the party, so the clever and relatively inexpensive use of social media by younger Corbyn supporting activists largely obviated the need for Labour to curry favour with mainstream newspaper owners Rupert Murdoch, Viscount Rothermere, Richard Desmond and the Barclay Brothers – all supporters of the policies and priorities Labour was now clearly rejecting.

The onslaught on Corbyn gets traction from the elevation of anti-racism to neoliberalism’s halo of choice, displacing and dislocating resistance to inequality and stifling any critique of desperado capitalism. But such a vicious crusade would be impossible without a media weaponised to serve the interests of a transnational elite. In similar fashion the government can fix in the public imagination fantasies of Russian agents poisoning people in English market towns.

Here are some responses from the Russian Embassy in London to questions from the media following the latest claims that the police have identified the villains.

07.09.2018 – Reply by the Embassy Press Officer to a question regarding alternative explanations of the Salisbury incident
Question: How could you comment on the statements on Russia having produced “40 fictitious narratives” on the Salisbury attack? Answer: These reports are themselves fictitious. As we have said before, Russia does not, and cannot, have an official version of the incident for the simple reason of having no access to any data on which that version might be based. Russian discussions over this issue are going on in a UK-imposed information vacuum, filled with endless leaks in British media which turn out to be false time and again. One may recall how many times it was announced that suspects had been identified (each time with different names and in varying numbers), or how many ways of executing the attack have been discussed.
06.09.2018 – Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning accusations against Russia of poisoning  Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Q.: Has the Embassy received any materials from the UK supporting yesterday’s accusations against Russia related to the Skripal case? A.: No, we have not received any additional documents, clarifications or requests. The British authorities continue to expect “answers” from Russia, but they forget to ask questions. As we have pointed out earlier, London’s accusations are coupled with a blunt refusal to cooperate. Instead, we are spoken to in the language of ultimatums. The latest example was yesterday’s meeting at the Foreign Office where Ivan Volodin, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., was denied an opportunity to reply to the British démarche, raise additional questions or explain Russia’s position.
06.09.2018 – Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the recent statements by British officials regarding the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury
The British officials are once again focusing their attention on Russia’s alleged involvement in the incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury, following a scenario that has become familiar to everyone. Without any documentary support or trustworthy testimonials, they have declared that there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against two Russian nationals and published photos of the two men whose actual nationality is still to be confirmed.
04.09.2018 – Embassy Statement on the situation with the Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal
Today marks exactly six months since the Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal were taken to Salisbury District Hospital under obscure circumstances. Ever since, they have been kept in isolation and under full control of British authorities. They remain out of the public eye at an unknown location, unable to communicate freely with their relatives, friends, journalists or Russian officials, deprived of the freedom of movement. The British authorities have been continuously refusing the Embassy to establish direct contact with the Skripals in order to verify their actual health situation, the conditions in which they are held and, most importantly, to ascertain to which extent their isolation is voluntary.

These answers and statements are cynically ignored by the mainstream media intent on peddling the ridiculous, evidence-free assertions of Prime Minister Theresa May. The claim that Russia delivered the US presidency to Trump is equally baseless but is just as enthusiastically marketed by America’s liberal media. The real objective is to fuel a policy of endless war in the Middle East which serves the converging interests of two ominously powerful groups, the military-Industrial complex and hard line Zionists.

Andres Perez-Alonzo writes:

Examination of the power relations behind the current U.S. discourse on terrorism shows that the most important and influential group has been that of neoconservatives, having their ideas and goals clearly established many years before 9/11. These people serve, among other functions, as a link between the Israeli lobby, with which they often overlap, the U.S. government and academia, and so they are in a privileged position of power.

In July the author Christopher Bollyn wrote an open letter to Donald Trump:

Dear Mr. President,
As you said very clearly, the United States is bogged down in a costly quagmire in the Middle East, engaged in covert military operations in countries where there is no real U.S. interest.  We have gained nothing from 17 years of war in which untold thousands have been killed or maimed and entire nations have been devastated.  Our Middle East policy is disastrous and must be changed.  If we don’t change our policy we can only expect more of the same – millions more refugees, thousands more dead, trillions more wasted. In order to correct our policy we need to understand who got us into this mess in the first place.  The 9/11 event as a false flag operation and the War on Terror campaign were both conceived by Israeli military intelligence in the 1970s under the leadership of Menachem Begin, the self-proclaimed “Father of Terrorism” and founder of the Likud party who became prime minister in 1977.  War on Terror doctrine was rolled out in July 1979 at a Netanyahu Institute conference in Jerusalem.  The Israeli trick was to get the U.S. military to neutralize and fragment its enemies, most notably Iraq and Syria, under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Since 1979, this devious plan has been openly promoted by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bollyn goes on to list a number of  false-flag operations he thinks were conducted by Israel against the US. Given that the official narrative of 9/11 is patently false, and the next war with Russia will be the last on the planet, it would be sensible to dispassionately scrutinise Bollyn’s argument. But the resort to reason is off-limits. Everything outside the matrix created by the mainstream media is now irrelevant – including the dreadful thought that a synagogue may be bombed to convince sceptics that anti-Semitism is a real and present danger.

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